Kali Uchis’ San Francisco set hampered by technical woes

Sheathed in a silky, black curtain, the Twin Peaks stage was empty, Kali Uchis’ euphonic trilling resonating like a siren’s call. Over the next 45 minutes of her top-billed Saturday night Outside Lands show, which she said was her last of the year, she was utterly mesmerizing.

Uchis was a vision in white, wearing a bodice with straps that suggested two sets of hands wrapped around her waist and chest. “Oh my god,” a stan yelled behind me early in her show, “she’s so perfect.”

Kali Uchis performs at the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.

Adam Pardee/Special to SFGATE

Kali Uchis, like Janet Jackson and fellow Colombian Shakira before her, understands that heartbreak is every bit as intense and alluring as lust. There’s power and freedom that comes with heartache — in cursing out a bum ex, in getting an uninterested partner to come crawling back through your DMs. The first three songs of her set, the gleaming “Dead to Me,” Kaytranada collaboration “10%” and the lounge-y number “Loner,” are a triad of songs tied together by the same defiance of being taken advantage of by some aloof bozo. Uchis’ sultry swaying and lip-licking while she performed merely underlined the obvious: Look what you’re missing out on when you’re not with me.

That sentiment recurred over and over throughout the evening in various gradations; “fue mejor,” a highlight from her 2020 Spanish-language album “Sin Miedo,” was suffused with a melancholy vocal turn from Uchis, lamenting the ghost of an ex-lover. For “Ridin’ Round,” an assured dancehall kiss-off, she sounded appropriately unbothered.

Kali Uchis performs at the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif.  on Saturday, Aug.  6, 2022.

Kali Uchis performs at the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.

Adam Pardee/Special to SFGATE

Uchis found a critical mass of adoring Gen Z fans on TikTok, where the spectral “Telepatía” and her freewheeling guest verse on Ghanaian singer Amaarae’s “Sad Girlz Luv Money” (both of which she performed on Saturday) are ubiquitous on the platform. But her success is not a social media fluke. She’s a raspy-voiced artist who makes smoke-hazed R&B filtered by a kaleidoscope of influences; a glamorous torch singer for a generation unbound by strict definitions of what popular music should sound like.

The stage was lit in a light pink glow and a stairway setup reminiscent of James Turrell, Uchis’ stage was rounded out by an array of dancers — a set of muses around her gesturing towards the strength of the divine feminine.

But the reverie of the evening was hampered by audio issues. After performing “Rush,” Uchis seemed aggravated — she couldn’t hear anything through her in-ear monitor. She powered through for at least three songs, before stepping off-stage and swapping out her unit entirely. For her last song of the night, “Telepatía,” the screech of feedback threatened to halt the song entirely — although the audience seemed just so pleased to hear this song, which I and they must have heard hundreds of times during a TikTok scroll, in-person.

Uchis graciously thanked the crowd and stepped off the stage with 10 minutes left in her time slot; when the lights came back on the stage, there was a glimmer of hope that she would return for an encore before the messages signaling the crowd to leave came on the big screens. For as enthralled as the crowd was by her, Kali Uchis’ Outside Lands concert — and her final show of 2022 — was cut short by human error.



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